Absurdities often found in political discussions

     It is quite common for persons engaging in political discussion to rely on bad reasoning, especially when good, sound, logical reasoning does not support their positions. Consider a few of these:

     • The Pythagoreaon Fallacy. Presented with a clear proof that a2 + b2 = c2 they resort to discrediting Pythagoras, often by making something up (“Why, I’ll bet you even...”) The credentials of the person speaking are relevant if it is a professional opinion such as if somebody says your cough is bronchitis; or when the integrity of the person presenting testimony matters; but the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem does not depend on personal testimony. Neither does a line of reasoning establishing that proposed legislation is unconstitutional: Compare what the relevant constitution says with what the proposed legislation says.

     • The possessive adjective fallacy. A 14-year-old girl screams wildly because she doesn’t get her way, and she pulls a knife on her step-father. This sounds bad, until somebody adds the fact that the step-father was trying to rape her, and “her way” is simply to be left alone. One favorite trick is to label the correct way, proven by good, sound logical reasoning to be correct, as somebody’s way, replacing the line of reasoning with a possessive adjective to draw attention away from the line of reasoning. This is also common on TV news shows, where the producers have a million couch potatoes, with their thumbs on the remote and cartoons on the other channel, and these couch potatoes will tune out at the first sign of anything educational. Football and pro-wrestling get better ratings than chess tournaments, because chess is for persons who want to think.

     • The incomplete argument. If a man is older than his girlfriend’s father, either of these gentlemen might shout at the other, “Mister, she’s 18 years old!” Sure, they agree on the fact, but they draw opposite conclusions from it. Her father figures that the fact proves she is too young for the boyfriend, and the boyfriend figures the fact proves that she is old enough. This incomplete argument trick is used by the side favored by SCOTUS: “Excuse me, but the United States Supreme Court upheld that statute.” which, to the other side, proves that the SCOTUS is stocked with liars openly vomiting forth obvious manifestations of blatant judicial perfidity. That particular iteration can be challenged with, “Please explain why you agree with that ruling.” leaving the opponent stunned at the very idea that anybody has a choice. The oath of office is to do the job agreeably to the constitution and not to the far-fetched judicial misinterpretations vomited forth from the bench.

     The argument is left incomplete because the rest of the reasoning is so absurd that the speaker cannot even bear to pronounce it: To say that the United States Supreme Court is infallible when ruling on questions of constitutionality, after the court has reversed itself on record (Minersville School District v. Gobitis and West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette come to mind.) is so absurd that the speaker hushes and infers that the infallibility is unquestionable and the opponent will accept it or face marginalization and ridicule.

     To ask how a statute can be unconstitutional when SCOTUS has upheld it, is like asking how I can be overdrawn when I still have some checks left in my checkbook.

     • The substitute argument. A cop murders a human. A talk show caller speaks out about police brutality. The host asks what happened to the caller. The caller is thus baited to describe his or her own episode, and the inference is, that is all the caller is complaining about.

     • Democracy. The word is often misused as a substitute for other concepts. The United States of America is a federal republic, not a democracy.

     • Love it or leave it. Persons offering this argument ignore the fact that the only persons who are free to leave the United States of America are the ones who are able to get permission from the bureaucrats of another country to move in. They also ignore the fact that a person’s right to stay in the United States of America cannot be justly conditioned on suffering violations of the person’s unalienable rights. An arsonist does not have a right to set fire to your house and then say that if you don’t want to burn to death, you are free to leave.

     • You were never in the service. I was truly stumped by this when protesting the United States war machine. To suggest that you have to participate in an unjust war in order to be qualified to protest is like saying only child molesters are qualified to criticize child molesters. G.I. Joe made no sense on that one. It took a long time to understand what he was even saying. After all the shit he was put through in the service, one way of coping is to be proud of his sacrifice, to pretend that his sacrifice was for a worthy cause, and that his service somehow makes him superior to everybody else. This is so absurd that it is not easy for him to think it, so it helps if everybody else pretends with him. That is why he gets so angry at persons who do not pretend with him. George Washington did such a good job during the Revolutionary War that many people felt he deserved a job in a position of policy-making, and G.I. Joe feels that only veterans should be allowed to direct policy nowadays. (On the other side of the coin, their service does qualify them to a degree as being more informed about the difference between collateral damage and war crimes.)